CALVIN, Jean Commentaires de Jean Calvin sur la concordance ou Harmonie, compose des trois Evangelistes […]

Geneva, Michel Blanchier, 1563.


Folio. pp. [16] 1-204, 209-850 [2]; 369 [21]. Roman letter, little italic. Large woodcut printer’s device to t-p of plumed skull atop a scorpion, set within an architectural frame, t-p slightly dusty. Address to the nobles of Frankfurt, alphabetical table of contents and passages within the work and another on the bible more generally.  Very slight age browning, occasional marks, some later leaves with light water stain to lower margin, paper flaw to lower outer corner of hh2 and *2 not affecting text. Mss chapter numbers to upper outer corners of N1. ff. A good, well-margined copy in contemporary mottled calf with gilt rules, slightly scuffed, corners worn. Spine richly gilt in floral geometric pattern and bands raised, edges sprinkled red.

The second edition of theologian and Protestant reformer John Calvin’s (1509-1564) commentary on the gospels and acts of the apostles. He began his career as lay administrator to a local bishop, before pursuing a career in law, studying at Orleans and Bourges. Here, he was introduced to the doctrine of humanism, with particular influence from Erasmus and Jacques Lefevre d’Etaples, which promoted the restructuring of the church and society based on classical and Christian antiquity. It also encouraged the study of the Bible in Greek, Hebrew and Latin. Calvin’s work hugely influenced Protestantism in Europe and North America, leading to the creation of multiple Calvinist churches, particularly in the USA; he is ‘the most perseveringly followed by his disciples of any Western writer on theology’, his other work on the ‘Institutes of the Christian religion’ becoming a handbook of Protestant belief.

Calvin produced a number of in-depth biblical commentaries, covering most of the Old and almost the entire New Testament, except for the Revelation to John. In this edition, he addresses the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke in tandem, but dedicates entire commentaries to John and the Acts of the Apostles. Lines of Scripture are quoted in chunks, in a larger font, followed by references and detailed comments on various phrases in each text. These include explanations, clarifications, and personal opinions with the aim of identifying examples of Harmony within the passages.  ‘His manner is classical; he reasons on system, he has little humour; instead of striking with a cudgel he uses the weapon of a deadly logic and persuades by a teacher’s authority, not by a demagogue’s calling of names.’

USTC: 60079; Erichson: pp.28; Adams: C 349, Catholic Encyclopedia III: p.195-203.